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‘Stop Starting’
A community based approach to tackling smoking prevalence in 9 to 14 year olds.

Stoke is a city of 240,000 people and currently 32% of its adult population smoke (compared to national average of 21%). We also know that most of these smokers start the habit when they’re young, typically around 13 years old and that 82% will have started smoking in their teenage years. 
Recognising that only once young people have been given the facts about smoking will they  be able to make informed decisions about whether to smoke or not. A pilot programme has been set up in Burslem and Sneyd Green West aimed at engaging and enabling the community to support its young people to ‘Stop Starting’ and thus tackle the root cause of the world’s biggest preventable killer.
The area of Burslem and Sneyd Green West (population 5722) was identified as an ideal pilot area due to its high ratio of 5-15 year olds (16.2% compared to Stoke’s average of 14.2%) and the fact that it is ranked as the most health deprived ward out of the 54 neighbourhood zones in the city.
In order to help the community tackle this significant issue the programme will pull together a number of key professionals whose aim will be to support the development of Community Action Groups in the area. They will then work together to delivery a combination of tried and trusted and innovative interventions in the community. The development of these Community Action Groups (CAG) is recognition of the importance of engaging the public in the delivery of health improvement and the capacity, skills, knowledge, connections and potential that sits within that community.
Key objectives of these groups will be to-: 
• Adopting an assets-based approach, building on existing resources and local evidence on what works
• Supporting community members to make decisions about how to address smoking prevention locally
• Building local capability and capacity to co-produce smoking prevention interventions for young people
• Evaluating this approach to test scalability and sustainability
Although the CAG will initially focus on smoking prevention, this will not be viewed as a limiting factor but rather a trial and a lever for addressing other social determinants of health. It is also envisioned that the process of mobilising a CAG will be a valuable case study for future community engagement and social action work, which aligns with the wider LSP strategy.
The ‘Stop Starting’ programme is part of a wider national programme called Healthy Places, Healthy Lives (HPHL) which aims to build on the recommendations from the Sir Michael Marmot’s report on reducing health inequalities, by building partnerships between health, local government and communities to design and implement tailored interventions to address local needs. As previously stated, smoking is a key issue in Stoke and as such work has been ongoing to identify the key partners who can support the work in this area. To date, students and staff at local primary and secondary schools, community youth workers, fire, police and members of the PCT have all offered there support to the programme.
Preliminary work started on the programme during 2010 and involved conducting primary research followed by a consultation process in order to achieve a better understanding of the problem, agree priorities and identify key stakeholders. From March 2011 we will be moving into the next phase of the programme which involves the development and delivery of interventions. This phase will run until September 2011, at which point the programme will be evaluated.
It is envisaged that the community and frontline professionals will work together to develop a series of solutions to the problem. Sometimes this may involve enabling community members to deliver existing proven interventions on other occasions innovative thinking may lead to a new approach and the development of bespoke interventions. Some of the initial concepts that have been discussed during the scoping part of the programme are listed below.
Community interventions
• Community co-designed social marketing campaign
• Community co-designed mentoring programmes (using a range of local champions)
• Intergenerational interventions focusing on a ‘whole family’ approach to smoking prevention/cessation
• Development of incentive schemes for promoting healthy behaviours
Partnership interventions
• Brief intervention training
• Improved signposting of services
• Improved partnership working
• Development of new resource/funding models to encourage a whole systems approach

If you have any further questions about this programme or would like to get involved, please get in touch by contacting Stacy Sharman, Healthy City Project Officer on 01782 232349 or e-mail

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  • Stoke-on-Trent Healthy City is a joint initiative between Stoke City Council and NHS Stoke-on-Trent. We work with a range of partners in the public, private, voluntary and community sectors from across the City to deliver improved health and well being to the people of Stoke-on-Trent

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